Friday, January 30, 2009

CPSC Grants One Year Stay on Required Testing & Certification of Certain Products

Halleluiah! The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that it would grant a one year stay on the testing and certification of certain products under the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

Individuals and groups have been contacting the CPSC with their concerns and there is even a petition requesting that the CPSIA be repealed.

Consumers who purchase products for children 12 and under--including books--should keep on eye on what happens over the next year as opponents of the current version of the CPSIA continue their efforts to get the law repealed or amended.

You can read a press release about the one year stay from the CPSC here.

Motivational Quote #20

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes."--Andrew Carnegie

When I stumbled across this inspirational quote today, I knew I had to stop what I was doing and blog about it. Carnegie's words encapsulate what it means to be an aspiring author.

Doesn't the goal of being a published author command your thoughts no matter how hard you try to deny it? Don't you feel the energy pouring forth from you as you put pen to paper or tap upon the keyboard? Isn't it inspiring that your hopes and dreams may one day come true?

Allow yourself to be happy! Stop making excuses as to why it can't happen. Make it happen. Find a way. Ask your family and friends for support, delegate chores, set aside some writing time and make sure you keep it sacred.

My articles at Writer2Writer can help you do it, but you have to want it. I know you want make it happen.

You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ALA Seeking Library Advocates to Help Push through Amendments to CPSIA

This was posted on the American Library Association's Issues & Advocacy page:

A public meeting was held January 22, and Cheryl Falvey, General Counsel for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), stated that a decision should be made by the first week of February regarding libraries. She advised libraries not to take any action at this time, and we are hopeful that the Commission’s decision will exempt libraries.

Even with her assurances, we must let the CPSC know how important an issue this is to libraries. Please call the Acting Commissioner, Nancy Nord, at (301) 504-7901. When you call this number, wait for the automated directory to give you directions to reach Nancy Nord’s office. Explain to the Commission that it is simply impossible for libraries to remove all children’s books from the shelves and/or ban children under 12 from the library and still provide the level of service that is needed.

You can find more information on how you can help at the American Library Association site.

Impact of CPSIA on School Libraries

As the official enforcement date of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) gets closer and closer, there still seems to be a lot of uncertainty about the law's impact on books and how CPSIA will impact school libraries.

I recently attended a meeting at a school in our district and they had not even heard of CPSIA, so perhaps that's good news. Until we know for sure, however, you might want to read this article that I found on the American Association of School Libraries blog.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Phyllis Zimbler Miller Talks about Branding

Why are we talking about this here? Well, you're not planning to stay an aspiring author forever, are you?

Fiction Scribe had another interesting guest blogger last week. Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel stopped by to talk about branding.

Here's the lead-in:

What Is Your Brand as a Writer? What Sets You Apart From Other Writers in Your Same Genre?

John has written a YA novel, Francine a chick lit, Martin a thriller, and Dolores a romance. While the titles of their respective novels may be different, their “brands” may all be the same – another YA novelist, another chick lit novelist, another thriller novelist, and another romance novelist.

Given the huge number of novels published each year and the large array of choices of what people can spend their leisure time doing, novelists are even more hard pressed to distinguish themselves from the pack. And how do they do this?

You'll find the entire article here.

Why You Should Hire A Professional Copy Editor

Fiction Scribe had an excellent guest blogger today. Author and editor Sigrid Macdonald spoke of the reasons you need to hire a copy editor.

Here's the lead-in to the article:

Many seasoned writers, myself included, balk at the idea of hiring a copy editor. We’ve been writing for years; we know grammar and sentence structure. Why put out good money to have someone else do exactly what we can do? Or worse – the editor may want to change our voice, our style and our tone. Who needs that? You do!

Whether you are brand-new to writing or you’re an old pro, there are two very good reasons why you shouldn’t edit your own work.

You can find the entire article here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Motivational Quote #19

Inspiration? A hoax that poets have invented to give themselves importance.--Jean Anouilh

On one of the shelves in my office I have a few books that I refer to reguarly, whether they be about craft, grammar, or motivation. Among the larger, taller books in that collection is a short hardcover with a sunburst on the front titled, The Writer's Book of Wisdom: 101 Rules for Mastering Your Craft by Steven Taylor Goldsberry.

Rule #4 talks about inspiration and includes this quote from playwright Jean Anouilh. Goldsberry says that if you wait for inspiration you have no business being a writer.

As aspiring authors we know the only way to get published is to submit manuscripts. If we're too busy waiting for that perfect moment to sit down and write, it may never happen. While the words certainly flow easier when you're inspired, it doesn't mean that you can't discipline yourself to write even when you're feeling less than inspired.

Timed writing sessions are an excellent way to get started. Read my article on timed writing sessions and get started today!

You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Motivational Quote #18

"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."--Michelangelo

The aspiring author sets goals on a daily or weekly basis--at least if he takes his career seriously, he does. In my articles for Writer2Writer I speak about setting goals often. Setting realistic goals is vital to a writer's success and productivity.

But why don't we want to set goals that are easily reached? Won't that still provide us with a sense of accomplishment?

Well, if you're new to goal setting, it might be a good idea to set some easy goals that you know you can achieve. But what will motivate you to keep going? If you're always setting goals that you achieve without a great deal of effort, it's like being the A student in a C-level high school course--you won't be challenged and eventually it's no longer fun to keep trying.

That's why setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is so important to aspiring authors. A realistic goal is one that you should be able to achieve, but also one that requires you to put in some effort.

What are some of the S.M.A.R.T. goals that you have set for yourself this year?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Dos and Don'ts of Virtual Book Tours

Social media consultant Angela Wilson interviewed me recently on the topic of virtual book tours. The virtual book tour is a relatively new online promotional tool for authors. You can read The Dos and Don'ts of Virtual Book Tours at Angela's Market My Novel blog.

One thing that I didn't address in this article is the advantage of being a tour host. If you are a blogger who would like to draw more traffic to your blog, hosting virtual book tours might be the way to go. You can email me if you're interested in talking about it.

Latest Writer2Writing Article Now Online

My article for the January issue of Writer2Writer is now available at their website. Stick to It: Tips to Help You Stick to Your Writing Goals will help you stay focused on your writing goals all year long.

While you're online, consider subscribing to Writer2Writer's monthly newsletter. It's free!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Scary New Law that Could Squelch Your Writing Dreams

Children's author, Elysabeth Eldering--whose State of Wilderness, Book 1 of the Junior Geography Detective Squad series we reviewed here--turned me on to information regarding the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that President Bush signed into law in August 2008.

Publisher's Weekly has written an article about the negative impact to the children's book industry that compliance with this law will ultimately bring.

CPSIA can only be described as a law where good intentions have gone astray. Instead of targeting the true culprits--toy manufacturers whose products manufactured overseas have been recalled due to lead content and small parts unsafe for children--this ill-written law will cover "all consumer products intended for use by children 12 and under. That includes books, audiobooks and sidelines, no matter where they are manufactured, even though most books have lead levels that are well below the Act’s most stringent safety standards."

According to the Publisher's Weekly article, "The CPSIA dictates that each children’s book SKU, shipped to retailers, catalogues and e-commerce sites as of February 10 must have been tested by a third-party lab to ensure that lead levels are below 600 parts per million. (Acceptable levels drop to 300 ppm in August and 100 ppm in 2011.) Some books also must be tested for phthalates, an acid used to soften plastic. The importer or domestic manufacturer must provide a Certificate of Conformity (usually posted on the Internet), and the product must be labeled appropriately. Older products on shelf must fall within acceptable safety standards but do not need to be accompanied by a Certificate, according to recent comments by the Consumer Products Safety Commission."

This translates into a huge additional cost for publishers; and if we think the book industry has seen a lull in this tough economy, just wait until February 10, 2009 when all these products are required to be tested.

Vivian Zabel of 4RV Publishing has provided the names and address of committee and subcommittee leaders on her Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap blog. These leaders have the ability to call for hearings on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and advance critical legislation to resolve some of the issues.

Please consider writing letters to these four men to express your concerns about the CPSIA as it is currently written.

Don't let good intentions gone astray squelch the dreams of aspiring children's authors. Don't let an ill-written law put small publishers out of business. Write your letter today!

Motivational Quote # 17

We talk a lot about fear of failure here, so it seemed only fitting that I would resurrect an old quote that I had mentioned in September of last year and make it this week's motivational quote.

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one."- Elbert Hubbard

Elbert Hubbard was a philosopher, lecturer, critic, publisher, novelist, essayist, and biographer. The son of country doctor, he worked on a farm and then held several jobs. After marrying his first wife, he set up a printing shop for The Philistine magazine. He and his second wife, Alice, died when a German torpedo hit and sunk the Lusitania.

While Hubbard discussed learning and fear of failure or making mistakes on more than one occasion, this particular quote touches upon something that can truly cripple an aspiring author.

In the poll we have going on right now about what keeps you from being committed to your writing, fear of failure is tied for the top spot with time. And one must wonder how many of those surveyed would find the time if they weren't crippled by fear.

Hubbard considered being afraid to make a mistake as the greatest mistake humans can make in regards to achieving their dreams. I want you to think about Hubbard's quote this week, and then I want you to write down on a piece of paper what you think will happen if you receive a rejection on a manuscript you submit.

Feel free to share some of your list here so that we can discuss them.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Motivational Quote #17

I thought I would try to be early this week. Time is so precious lately and I didn't want to disappoint anyone by not posting on Saturday.

In November 1855, Lincoln wrote a letter to Isham Reavis. In this short letter Lincoln advises Reavis to get the books (law) and read them until he understands them. The last line of this letter includes the quote below:

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing."- Abraham Lincoln

The letter was then signed, "Very truly Your Friend A. Lincoln"

Lincoln's letter was in response to an earlier one from Reavis, who had requested a student's position in Lincoln's firm--which Lincoln declined because he was gone too much to be helpful to Reavis. In this letter Lincoln advises him to study on his own and is telling Reavis that his own determination to succeed is more important than anything else.

That can also be said of the aspiring author. Nothing can hold you back if you are determined to succeed. Now, that might mean you have to push yourself to ask for critiques from fellow writers. It might mean you have to actually submit your polished manuscript to an agent or publisher. It could also mean that you need to take some classes to hone your craft before you're ready to move any further.

But whatever it takes, you have the power to do it. And if you don't believe me, won't you at least take Lincoln's word for it?